Unions demand big fines for low-wage employers

The TUC has warned that an increasing number of rogue employers are resorting to scams to cheat staff

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The TUC is calling for companies that fail to pay the minimum wage to face fines of up to £75,000, warning an increasing number of rogue employers are resorting to scams to cheat staff.

The trade union body is today publishing a report – Enforcing the National Minimum Wage – which warns that vulnerable apprentices are most likely to be cheated out of their due.

And it says rogue bosses have developed cheats such as under-recording hours, bogus self-employment, charging for uniforms, not paying for travel between sites during the working day and clocking workers off when there are no customers in stores or cafés.

It says some employers have resorted to pulling disappearing acts, only to re-emerge under new names.

The current maximum fine is just £5,000 and prosecutions have been rare.

Other recommendations to improve the situation include hiring more HM Revenue & Customs enforcement officers and creating legal “gateways” so HMRC can share enforcement information with other authorities.

It also wants non-payers to be named and shamed.

Groups found to be particularly at risk of non-payment include migrant workers, domestic workers, people on zero-hours contracts including temporary agency workers, workers in social care and employees whose accommodation is dependent on their job.

The TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Failing to pay the minimum wage is an antisocial act that squeezes those workers who have the least. There should be no hiding place for cheapskate bosses who try to cheat their workers.”